On the ramping censorhip in Spain around the Catalan referendum

Sep 27

On October 1st, the Catalonian government will hold a referendum on regional independence from Spain. The Spanish government maintains that the referendum is unconstitutional and has been taking aggresive measures to attempt to prevent the vote from happening. This resulted in the seizure of paper ballots, arrests of elected Catalonian politicians on charges of sedition, and the deployment of 16,000 police and military forces in Catalonia.

The crackdown also manifested online through an escalation of Internet censorship. Starting with the seizure of the primary domain name for the referendum, referendum.cat, the Spanish authorities have also raided the offices of puntCAT, the domain registrar responsible for the .cat TLD, and arrested its head of IT on charges of sedition. In its effort to stifle mobilization, Spanish authorities have demanded that the registrar preemptively “block all .cat domains that may contain any kind of information about the forthcoming independence referendum”.

In addition to the shutdown of .cat domains, the Spanish authorities have also ordered Spanish Internet Service Providers to implement DNS blocking of all mirrors of referendum.cat and other relevant websites registered outside of their jurisdiction. New domains are being created and blocked by the day.

Security Without Borders is troubled by the unjustified and draconian use of censorship and force to suppress fundamental rights to association, expression, and self-determination. We join the international community in demanding an end to the ongoing crackdown on the referendum, and call on the Spanish government to restore the ability of Spanish and Catalonian people to access and enjoy a free and open Internet.

In the meantime, here are instructions in Catalan on how to circumvent the block.

In order to document the ongoing blocking, we have been collecting measurements to contribute to the public datasets of the Open Observatory of Network Interference. We invite our friends from Spain and Catalonia to do the same. You can easily run a measurement from your mobile phone by clicking on the following button:

Fight Censorship